On the day after the Michigan Men lost to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, on the day after the Michigan Wolverines wore a helmet sticker with Gerald Ford's number 48, the nation pauses to remember the "accidental President," a Michigan Man.
Ford was an outstanding offensive lineman for the Wolverines, but passed up an opportunity to play in the NFL, choosing to attend Yale Law instead.
He remained a true Michigan Man to the end, often asking that "Hail to the Victors" be played instead of Hail to the Victors at White House functions. In a media guide largely devoted to Michigan's storied tradition, Ford has a page of his own: Three Varsity Letters. Most Valuable Player. Yale law degree. Sworn into Congress in '49. Minority leader in '65. President in '74. Number retired in '94. His number is the last Michigan number to be retired.
In 1997, Lloyd Carr asked Ford to address the team before the big game against Ohio State. The Wolverines were 10-0 and ranked No. 1, en route to what would be the program's second national championship. Carr needed to do anything possible to lessen the pregame tension.
Ford addressed the team during practice on that cold, gray November day.
"He said, `I've watched and followed you closely all year. I watched the Notre Dame game. I saw that great, comeback win against Iowa. I watched the Penn State game. But I'm going to tell you something: Saturday, you're going to play in the most important game in the history of Michigan football,"' Carr said. "And I thought to myself, 'Well, so much for trying to take the pressure off the guys."'Farewell, Mr. President.